The latest technological rumor circling search engine giant Google is that they’re developing a pair of glasses that can stream real-time information to the wearer’s eyes. This type of technology might seem like something straight out of Minority Report or a similar futuristic sci-fi movie, but it’s actually been implemented by military and commercial pilots for years. Pilots have used “heads-up displays” to keep their eyes and attention on the information in front of them instead of having to constantly look down at cockpit instruments. However, a big concern is how will this type of technology will translate when you transition it from professional to civilian use.
The idea behind these glasses, which could reportedly cost between $250 to $600, is that people can use them to gather “information about locations, surrounding buildings and friends who might be nearby” using both the Android platform and Google’s existing search and mapping technology. From a pedestrian standpoint, imagine looking at a building and immediately retrieving information about it, or picture yourself walking down the street and getting a notification that a friend of yours is at a nearby cafe. If you’re a driver, imagine wearing the glasses and getting in-depth directions to your target location. The perks of this technology bundled in a slick Oakley sunglasses frame seem pretty hard to resist.
On the other hand, there are some very serious safety concerns that could lead to an increase in both distracted driving and in pedestrians who aren’t paying attention. Consumer Reports brought up the possibility that drivers could falsely believe this type of technology would be safe to use while driving because it’s technically hands-free, but they could be so busy looking at the information in front of them that they don’t see through the content to the actual road. Similarly, pedestrians wouldn’t be looking down at their phones any more, but just because they’d be staring straight ahead doesn’t mean they would be paying attention to their surroundings.
While Google allegedly expects “some of the nerdiest users” to wear the glasses constantly, the company isn’t designing the product to be worn all the time and instead considers them to be “more like smartphones, used when needed.” Unfortunately, in an age where society is becoming more and more dependent on and addicted to technology, that suggestion will almost certainly fall on deaf ears. If this product is indeed currently being developed, we could very well see an increase in both distracted driving and pedestrian injuries.